What kind of expectations should I set from American visitor insurance plans?
Just like auto insurance and life insurance work differently, visitors insurance works somewhat differently from domestic health insurance plans. You may assume you know the answer to questions like "What does visitors insurance cover?" However, your assumptions may not be correct.
Most people who invite their parents, in-laws or other relatives have a domestic group health insurance through their employer and expect that visitors insurance will work the same way, which is not the case, for valid reasons. Therefore, it is very important to set the expectations straight.
We strongly suggest that you go through the guide and read through various articles and familiarize yourself with how health insurance for foreign visitors works.
How much is the copay?
There is no concept of a copay in any short term insurance plan, even for the U.S. citizens in the U.S. who are between the jobs. Therefore, there is no concept of a copay in visitors insurance plans. (Exception: Some comprehensive coverage plans have a copay for US urgent care and walk-in clinic).
In short term plans, you will have to pay the deductible first, before the plan pays anything. Once you satisfy the deductible, how much the plan pays depends upon whether you choose the fixed coverage plan or the comprehensive coverage plan. Read the Visitors Insurance Types article below to understand more details.
Comprehensive coverage plans have the concept of coinsurance and limit your out of pocket maximum expenses while fixed coverages only pay a fixed amount for each procedure and you pay the difference, no matter how high.
My friend had bought the insurance and out of the $20,000 expense, the insurance company paid only $3,700. How good is such insurance? What do you suggest?
Read the Risks of Purchasing Fixed Coverage Plans article to understand more details.
Numerous people buy a fixed coverage plan thinking that it should be enough and then later show dissatisfaction that the insurance company didn't make enough payments. Well, if fixed coverage plans were enough, why would anyone pay two to three times more money and buy comprehensive plans? Why would comprehensive plans even exist in the market?
We always recommend that everyone please buy the comprehensive coverage plans only, and never the fixed coverage plans. The insurance plans on our web site are identified, and sorted into multiple sections such as fixed coverage plans, comprehensive coverage plans etc. However, you should be careful in case someone tries to sell you a fixed coverage plan and claims it to be a comprehensive coverage plan. (This can happen anywhere, it especially can happen with the plans sold in your home country, for persons above a certain age.)
What is the coverage for pre-existing conditions?
Please the article for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions FAQ.
Medical facilities in the USA are excellent and now that my parents have come to the USA, I would like them to go through routine physicals to get their entire bodies checked and also get a mammogram, pap smear, etc. done for my mother now that I have bought the health insurance for them. Would that be covered?
No. Routine physicals and preventive care are NOT covered.
In fact, we recommend that before your relatives visit the U.S., they should get the complete and comprehensive medical check up done in the home country itself. This is not required by the insurance companies before you buy the insurance.
This is very important even if they seem very healthy. It is certainly possible that some unknown conditions are discovered. There are many hospitals and clinics, especially in India, that have check up packages at very affordable costs.
It provides you with the peace of mind to travel without any worries if everything is fine. Also, in case any of your relatives get into any new medical conditions, it may be helpful to prove to the insurance company that it was not a pre-existing condition.
Depending upon the seriousness of the findings during the check up, you may want to decide whether they should travel to the U.S. or not with such conditions, as they would be considered a pre-existing conditions and not covered under any visitors insurance plans.
Is a flu shot covered in visitors insurance?
No. Short term insurance plans do not cover preventive care.
My in-laws have high blood pressure and diabetes. I understand no visitor medical insurance plan is going to cover that, and I am willing to take the risk. What precautions should I take for regarding their health to minimize future potential problems?
Blood pressure and diabetes are the 2 most common diseases older people visiting from India have. Most of the time, such persons are in a good/stable health condition. However, they may require regular medications and frequent check ups.
Carry a sufficient amount of medications from the home country before traveling to the USA. If you decide to stay longer than initially planned, and if you run out of the medications, you can also ask a relative in your home country to send them by postal mail or courier, as long as they are not controlled drugs.
If you still need to get medications while you are in the U.S., please read the Pharmacy Rx Drugs Claim Process article for more details.
Persons suffering from high blood pressure and/or diabetes should consider self measuring equipments, available in major pharmacy stores, online and wholesale places like Costco, Sam's Club etc. Most of them cost under $50 to $100 and are very useful. You don't need to run to the doctor every time to get your blood pressure checked. If any of the equipment requires a doctor's prescription, such as diabetes testing strips, you will have to pay for that doctor visit yourself as that visit would be related to pre-existing conditions and not covered by most visitors insurance plans.
I would like to go for a vision test or I would like to get a new pair of glasses or contact lenses. Is that covered?
No. Vision and glasses/contact lenses are not covered.
Please note that vision and eye problems are two different things. If you have a swollen eye, watery eyes or there is an injury in the eye, that is considered a medical problem and it would be covered as long as it is not a pre-existing condition with most insurance plans.
Injured eyes, swollen eyes, or watery eyes may also be covered in accordance with the schedule of benefits for pre-existing conditions by Visitors Protect insurance if it is a pre-existing condition.
It is recommended that before the visitors travel to the U.S., they get their eyes checked for vision. If they need to wear glasses, please get at least two or three pairs of glasses, before coming to the U.S., and after reaching the U.S., keep all but one in a safe place. In case, one pair breaks, you can use another one. Glasses and frames are very expensive in the U.S., compared to the home country.
Is dental/vision covered in visitors insurance?
Medical and dental/vision coverages are separate.
If you would like any coverage for dental/vision, please look at CAREINGTON dental/vision plan.
Why do I have to deal with any claim related process? Why don't you just make the payments?
Please read claims process section for further details.
If I am pregnant and visiting USA, what kind of coverage in visitors insurance can I expect?
Please read the US Visitor Insurance for Pregnancy Coverage article for further details.
What other precautions should I take while my relatives are visiting the U.S.?
Accidents: Many of our customers call after their parent fell down in the bathroom and broke hips or other bones. Therefore, it would be best if they get accustomed to the U.S. bathroom before using it. If you don't already have it, you should put a bathroom rug. They should also become familiar with how the hot and/or cold water controls work in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower.
Visitors should dress according to the weather. In most of parts of the U.S., winter is harsh and it is quite cold. It is not a good idea to roam around in saree and in chappals in such cold. Therefore, they should either bring weather appropriate clothes from the home country itself or buy soon after arrival into the U.S.
Unlike many parts of the world, the weather in most parts of the U.S. changes quite frequently and unexpectedly. Therefore, whether you are traveling to distance places or just around the town, you should first check the weather and make arrangements accordingly.
You, as a host, should not make hectic travel plans for your older visiting parents. At many tourist places, there is a lot of walking to do for site seeing. Keep their age in mind while making travel plans.
It would be helpful to walk every day and do some light exercises.
Visitors new to the country may get seasonal or other allergies that they may not have in their home country. Therefore, it would be wise to be careful regarding that.
While traveling to tourist places, and also while at home, it is very important to watch the eating habits as it can avoid a lot of minor problems like stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, food poisoning, etc. Even though you may be used to eating out frequently, your parents are not. Be sensitive of their dietary needs while they are visiting you.
Explain the basic rules of traffic to your visitors. E.g., you can not cross the road at any place, but only at designated places, that pedestrians have right of way over the vehicles, etc.
If one of your relatives are unable to walk a long distance due to physical disability (such as arthritis), it might be worthwhile to check with your local department of transportation whether they would issue a temporary disabled pass. That would help in parking near the places wherever you go while they are visiting.